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Loyalty schemes important to post-lockdown reopenings

Loyalty schemes, in particular digital ones, could be key for driving repeat footfall when hospitality reopens after lockdown, according to a new report.

GO Technology from CGA and Zonal shows half (49%) of consumers in Britain now think loyalty schemes are important to them when choosing restaurants, pubs and bars to visit—and that rises to nearly two thirds (63%) of 18 to 24 year-olds. Nearly half (47%) of all consumers say they use a scheme every or almost every time they visit a venue.

But there is a gap between demand for loyalty programmes and their availability. Nearly two thirds (64%) of businesses do not yet offer a loyalty scheme as part of their marketing strategy, and so may be missing out on repeat visits from guests.

The report states how the pandemic and a squeeze on some consumers’ incomes is likely to sharpen the focus on the financial benefits of loyalty programmes. Nearly half (48%) of consumers say they want schemes to provide discounts—the most wanted benefit ahead of perks like preferential booking and exclusive experiences.

The ‘Loyalty and technology in 2021’ report from CGA and Zonal also highlights the growing preference for smartphone-based loyalty programmes.

Use of apps has risen during the pandemic as consumers seek to browse menus, order and pay via their mobile devices, and the emphasis on safety is likely to increase take-up again in 2021. However, app-based loyalty schemes will need to be simple to use and seamlessly integrated into other digital functions if they are to earn a place on consumers’ smartphones, the report suggests.

Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA, comments: “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumers’ attitudes to many aspects of eating and drinking-out, and the dramatic shift towards technology solutions provides a golden opportunity to turn people on to digital loyalty schemes.

“There are development and margin costs to consider, but in such a difficult and competitive trading environment, generating repeat visits and targeted marketing are going to be more important than ever before—and well-run loyalty programmes could help to unlock both.”

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